Robert Beric continued his strong late-season form, scoring just before the stroke of halftime to lift Chicago Fire FC to a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake at Soldier Field on Saturday evening.
HIGHLIGHTS: Chicago Fire FC vs. Real Salt Lake | October 23, 2021
Already eliminated from Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs contention, Chicago delivered the first real chance of the night in the 27th minute as they looked to dent RSL’s own postseason hopes. But Aaron Herrera denied a Fire goal-scoring opportunity at the last second as he slid in to stop Ignacio Aliseda inside the box following a promising Chicago break.
The Fire, though, ultimately took the lead through Beric just before the halftime whistle. A great ball from beyond midfield by Mauricio Pineda was played to Miguel Navarro on the left-hand side of the scoring area and crossed to Beric, who turned and put it past David Ochoa for his fifth goal in as many matches to make it 1-0.
RSL gathered a bit of steam in the second half and looked to knot things up prior to the hour mark, but Gabriel Slonina made a terrific save on a free header by Makiel Chang. The 17-year-old homegrown answered the call again in the 64th minute when he denied a strike from outside the box by Pablo Ruiz.
Chicago couldn’t convert on a few chances to build upon their narrow lead, but ultimately saw matters out as they ensured RSL would remain below the Western Conference playoff line with four matches remaining.
- 45’ - CHI - Robert Beric | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Chicago’s job the rest of the way is to play spoiler with a fourth straight playoff absence already confirmed. In front of their largest crowd of the year, they put together an inspired performance while providing a glimpse of optimism for their 2022 campaign. For RSL, there’s still time to climb back into playoff places with four games left. But results like this one will stick out if they do end up missing the postseason.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: With a half-hour remaining, Real Salt Lake provided Gaga Slonina his first big test of the evening. And he passed it with flying colors when he denied a free header by Makiel Chang in RSL’s bid to pull level.
SAVE: Gabriel Slonina, Chicago Fire FC - 60th minute
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Slonina made all five of his saves during the second half, starting with his denial of Chang’s header. That stop stood out the most as the teenager kept a clean sheet and held the visitors at bay.
- CHI: Wednesday, October 27 at New York City FC | 7:30 p.m. ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
- RSL: Wednesday, October 27 at FC Dallas | 8 p.m. ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)